by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)
The Cubs own a deep farm system, so to an extent it makes sense that Kyle Hendricks didn’t receive much publicity heading into the season. An eighth round pick by the Rangers in 2011, he was part of the deal that sent Ryan Dempster to Texas. Now with holes in the Cubs’ rotation for the taking, he has gotten his opportunity and is taking advantage of it.
Through three starts he owns a 2.33 ERA and 1.19 WHIP. The real question is, can he continue his success?
Coming up through the minors he actually owned all three skills we look for in a pitcher. While his strikeout rate was “huge”, there’s nothing wrong with a 7.68 K/9. It of course plays up even better when you pair it with pinpoint control (1.61 BB/9) and an ability to generate groundballs (52.5%).
However the numbers weren’t enough as he fell short of Baseball America’s Top 10 Cubs’ prospect. John Sickels of Minor League Ball, who had him at #16, said:
“Scouts have doubts since he doesn’t throw hard and relies on deception, but continued pitching of this quality will force a trial soon and he could be a useful inning-eater.”
He is averaging 88.0 mph in the Majors, so he definitely isn’t going to overwhelm anyone. Still, using deception has led to an 8.8% SwStr%. He’s also still showing solid control (2.79 BB/9) and an ability to generate groundballs (50.9%). Of course it’s an extremely small sample size, so you have numbers like a 27.3% line drive rate and an 89.6% strand rate to contend with. In other words we need to keep everything in perspective, but the underlying makeup still remains.
Maybe Sickels is right, maybe Hendricks is ultimately relegated to “innings eater”. Time will tell, but we have to remember that you don’t need to throw hard to be successful in the Major Leagues. The 24-year old righty appears to have the skills necessary to be a viable fantasy option, especially when the matchup is right.
In redraft formats and short-term keeper leagues it’s not likely that Hendricks holds much value in 2014 (he is pitching for the Cubs after all). Dynasty leagues are a different story, however. While we would like to see him get the groundball rate up even more, there could be enough there. It’s not going to be a big investment to get him, so he’s going to be worth rolling the dice on to see if you can strike gold.
Sources – Fangraphs, Minor League Centrall, Baseball Reference, Minor League Ball
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